It was Carol Sluys who first introduced us to the fascinating world of Sasha dolls. Perusing the internet for smocking, she came upon our miniature outfit line and reached out to ask if our dresses would fit her dolls. We started talking, exchanging pictures and from there started a lovely relationship! A doll “meet cute” would best describe our encounter.
Long time passionate doll collector, her experience and knowledge is of great value. We would love for you to get to know her better and benefit from her advice.
Learn about her own collection and how to best create your own!
Can you briefly present yourself ?
I'm a wife, a retired sales rep and like a lot of doll collectors, I'm a mother of sons. I was born in the midwest but have lived on the west coast of the United States since the seventies.
Can you tell us how your passion for collecting dolls first started and how it evolved?
For me, doll collecting is the means to the end. My real passion is collecting fine fabrics and fashion for dolls.
My mother was a doll lover herself and had great taste. As her last child, she saw me as her final opportunity to get involved with pretty clothes and dolls and it didn't disappoint! I was very tall for my age so most of my “baby” clothes were custom made by a dressmaker. I learned to love fine fabrics and co-ordinated clothing early on.
The first doll I remember getting was a pair of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls made by my aunts. For my 4th Christmas, I received an American Character Tiny tears in a pink suitcase covered with golden Fleur-de-Lis. I still have that doll, suitcase and every item that came with it. Then in 1957, at age 6, I received a 17” Flirty eyed Shirley Temple doll that I still have and she has been restored to mint condition.
The baby doll is an American Character Tiny Tears. I received her on Christmas of 1955 and the picture of me holding her was taken in October of 1956.
My interest in dolls was always creating and collecting beautiful clothing for them. I was sewing hand stitched trousseaus for them at age 8. Thankfully there are a lot of fine artists that make beautiful clothing for dolls using couture techniques and fabrics as my expectations soon exceeded my personal sewing ability. Doll clothing can be very expensive… There is a saying in the Sasha doll world : "If you spend more money dressing your doll than yourself, you might be a Sasha doll collector!” Clearly my case...
For my 10th birthday my mom decided it was time to get me started with antique dolls and I received a German China head doll. It came with a trunk and a full trousseau. After that I received a doll for my birthday each year but it was in the 1990’s that I started to collect in earnest. 15 years later I had about 50 dolls...most of them vintage dolls from my childhood. In 2006, I retired and started collecting antiques, and soon another 100 or so dolls were added.
But it wasn't until 2012 that I started collecting Sasha dolls. It started with 2 and it quickly grew. In the last 10 years about 250-300 Sasha dolls have passed through my hands and I now have a pretty nice collection of about 125 Sasha dolls. Along with Sasha came a worldwide community of Sasha lovers that gave my doll collecting a new life. I met and have visited people all over the world. On their turf and on mine. Never have I enjoyed a group of people more.There is nothing but kindness and a willingness to share, teach, learn and befriend in the Sasha doll world.
My very first Sasha and the only one named Sasha. She is an early Trendon (meaning she was among the first made in England).
What tips would you give to someone wishing to start a collection?
The most important is to decide what you actually want to collect and why you want to collect. There are thousands of stunning dolls of every brand, type and size and so many genres on the market. Some are really good deals and some are inexplicably expensive. It's easy to get lost by buying what you "like" because there is an endless pool of beauty and there is something to love about almost all of them. I still struggle with this and am always disappointed with myself for getting another beautiful doll who really doesn't fit in.
I have so many dolls now I spend more time managing them than enjoying them. I used to be able to tell you the history of every doll.. Now I can't recall 1/2 of them. I have made it a rule to have all my dolls displayed. If a doll has to live in a box, there is little point.
Here is a thought about "Mint in the Box” ( MIB) dolls. I buy very few of them because I discovered early on these were not to be played with and shouldn't be removed from the box due to loss of value. MIB dolls tend to end up getting stuck in closets. The responsibility is too great and the fun too limited. That applies to any brand of doll.
One remarkable thing about Sasha however, is that she cleans up extremely well especially for a 60 year old doll. I have even fixed dolls with red permanent markers, nail polish and chewed fingers.... These imperfect dolls, often purchased naked and in need of help, actually have a name, they are known as waifs in the Sasha jargon.
Take time to research the extra activities that particular doll comes with and what resources are available. Get to know the community of collectors. There are so many Sasha festivals, fundays and several internet groups that are very active. The same applies to most collected items.
Also decide how much of your fortune you are willing to devote to your dolls. Finally, one other consideration is to think of how those dolls will be disposed of when you're gone. In my case I think my boys will back a couple of big trucks up to the “doll house” and dump them. Ouch!
What advice would you give on how to acquire a Sasha doll?
There are about 1000 Sasha collectors that are active in groups dedicated to Sasha. Almost all of them have a Sasha or two to sell. Ebay (all across the world) always has Sasha dolls for sale. Sasha dolls range from $100 to $20,000. If you spend over $200, you might consider asking for assistance. Just find a facebook Sasha group and ask for advice. As a bonus, you will end up with a few new friends.
I learned almost everything I know from Shelly Baxter. Her website is Sashadolluk.co.uk. She was very gracious and more than willing to share her knowledge. Another resource I have used often is Susanna Lewis of Sashadoll.com in the USA. Susanna and two of her friends created three reference books that are invaluable resources. One is available directly from Susanna and the other two are available on the secondary market. Both Shelly's site in the UK and Susanna's site in the US have very complete histories of Sasha and a great deal of helpful information. Shelly sells Sasha dolls at appropriate prices. Susanna no longer sells consigned dolls.
If you are totally new to the world of dolls in general, do not hesitate to get help, one can easily get misled unintentionally. Some dolls may look perfect in photos but have very poor quality clothing or be described as “limited edition artist dolls” but actually be mass produced ones from Asia.
What’s the best way to take care of Sasha dolls?
Oh boy, this question has almost endless possibilities...I'll mention the most important ones.
Sasha doesn't like heat and doesn't like to be boxed.
She can stand by herself but her torso collapses with a typical doll stand that squeezes her waist. Only use a saddle type stand that fits between her legs to keep her safe. Or no stand at all. If she is properly strung she will stand well on her own.
Be careful when washing her hair. Look up online how to proceed or contact me. I have a detailed set of instructions that have served me well.
A final piece of advice for those seeking to dress their Sasha dolls in the Charlotte sy Dimby garments?
The Charlotte sy Dimby dresses are made for the production Sasha who is a doll made from 1962-2005. This doll is between 16-17 inches. If you buy a 20” Studio doll or a 20’ course doll it will not fit the clothing made here.
Can you show us and present your most precious doll?
Oh wow. This is really difficult as different dolls tick different “precious” boxes. Because we are talking about Sasha I'll try to narrow it down to my three favorite Sashas. When I was building my collection of Sasha dolls I was fortunate to buy a long time collectors collection of about 200 dolls. Several of them were sent to the UK as they needed major repairs. I then picked them up in England during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. One of those dolls ended up becoming Jubilee and another was called Lilibet.
The third was named Shalison after Allison Parnell who re-rooted the dolls’ hair and Shelly Baxter who repainted their faces.
The first one wearing a white dress is Lilibet, she is an early Gotz. She has accompanied me to every festival and every time I go visiting friends with a doll.